Why is Aeration in Hydroponic Reservoirs Important?

By Kent Gruetzmacher
Published: February 20, 2023
Presented by AC Infinity Inc.
Key Takeaways

Thinking of growing cannabis via hydroponics? To do so successfully, aeration of your reservoir is critical to making sure your plants are as healthy as possible for maximum yields.

Hydroponics is defined as the soilless cultivation of crops in controlled environments. Since hydroponic crops aren’t grown with soil, they are fed directly with liquid nutrients in water. Yet, because cannabis doesn’t naturally grow in water, people have had to improvise to make hydroponics work.

Without the use of soil as an aid, hydroponic growers have had to figure out how to get critical elements like oxygen and nutrients to cannabis plants. As hydroponics evolved as a discipline, people quickly learned that the practice of aerating reservoirs could help solve some of these issues. Today, whether you use deep water culture (DWC) or nutrient film technique (NFT), aeration plays several important roles in keeping your hydroponics system healthy.


The Importance of Oxygen in the Root Zone

While cannabis plants produce oxygen with photosynthesis, they consume it as they grow. While leaves easily pull oxygen from the air, roots must be able to get oxygen from the soil. This is a big reason why potting soil is mixed with perlite — as lighter materials allow easier airflow to the root zone.

You can do some real damage to your crop by cutting off oxygen flow to the root zone. Whether it be due to heavy potting soil or overwatering, root disease is often directly related to poor airflow to the root zone. For reasons such as this, cannabis plants do best in soils that dry out quickly and breath well.

Since hydroponic growers use water instead of soil, aeration plays a similar role in hydro growing that perlite does in soil growing. In essence, adding air to your hydroponic reservoir supplies plants with the oxygen they need to absorb through their roots.

Adding Oxygen to Reservoir Water

aeration in reservoir water


Most growers use a pump and air stone to replenish dissolved oxygen in hydroponic reservoirs. While some cultivators opt for aquarium pumps, using technology made specifically for hydroponics is always your best bet. The Hydroponics Air Pump from AC Infinity is a top-of-the-line system that offers precision control over oxygen levels with an adjustable dial. The system also comes with high-quality tubing and an aeration stone.

Another factor to consider with your hydroponic reservoir is that water temperature dictates its ability to hold oxygen. Generally, cold water can hold more oxygen than hot water. Nonetheless, water below a certain temperature can potentially shock your cannabis plants. Most hydro growers agree that the best temps for a reservoir are around 65-75°F.

Since different types of hydro systems treat the root zone differently, they have unique requirements for total dissolved oxygen. For example, since DWC systems immerse the root zone 100 percent of the time in water, they require serious aeration. If you are running DWC, you should pump about one liter of air per minute for every gallon of water in your reservoir.

In other hydro systems such as flood and drain, slightly lower levels of dissolved oxygen will do just fine. In such setups, root zones are exposed to the air when not being irrigated, while the motion of the water in these systems also provides a bit of aeration.

Read also:
Simple Hydro Setups for Beginners
The Best Containers for Hydroponic Growing
The Best Cannabis Strains for Grow Tents

Keeping Pathogens at Bay

One of the most important reasons for aerating your hydroponic reservoir is keeping pathogens at bay. The idea here is to create conditions in your reservoir where nutrients and beneficial organisms are available, while harmful pathogens are not able to proliferate. This balance requires careful attention to temperature and dissolved oxygen, while also keeping a clean and sterile hydro system.

Known as “anaerobic” environments, pathogens, diseases, and algae proliferate in warm water with low oxygen levels. Conversely, “aerobic” environments feature cooler water with higher oxygen levels. In turn, aerobic environments are generally healthy for aquatic life, as well as cannabis plants.

While hydroponic growing gives you precision control over your garden inputs, things can also go wrong quickly with imbalances in temperature and oxygen, as well as other important metrics like pH.


Using Nutrients More Efficiently

hydroponic plant roots in water

Properly aerating your hydroponic system also allows you to use nutrients more efficiently.

While drain-to-waste systems use water and nutrients a single time, recirculating hydro systems and DWC setups make efficient use of garden inputs. Yet, without proper aeration, no recirculating system would function because the water would quickly become anaerobic. As such, adding oxygen to your reservoir is the key to reusing water and nutrients for days or weeks.

Due to the way that nutrients are delivered in hydroponic systems, it's critical they are properly mixed in your reservoir. Since roots come into direct contact with your nutrient solution, a poorly mixed reservoir can have detrimental effects on your garden. In the worst cases, your crop might receive highly concentrated doses of nutrients coming from the bottom of your reservoir.

By having an aeration pump running at all times, you will keep nutrients evenly mixed throughout the reservoir. With good motion of water in your reservoir, you can ensure an even parts-per-million (PPM) of nutrients throughout your solution.

No matter what type of hydro system you’re running, proper aeration in your reservoir is critical. While adding dissolved oxygen is the most important function of aeration, it is also extremely helpful in mixing nutrients and keeping pathogens under control. Luckily, aeration pumps are extremely affordable and easy to integrate with any hydroponic setup.

While different hydro systems have slightly different aeration requirements, you shouldn’t have to dig too deep to figure out what is best for your setup. In turn, balancing dissolved oxygen along with other important metrics like temperature, PPM, and PH will help you grow exceptional hydroponic cannabis. When your system is totally dialed, you can consistently produce large yields, while also cutting down on expensive inputs like nutrients.


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AC Infinity is the foremost name in air delivery systems, designing and developing the latest innovations in cooling and ventilation technology. They offer a suite of quiet inline fans that automate the growing progress and track key metrics. Visit or contact [email protected] to learn more.


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Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content

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Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.

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